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Theatre Professor Awarded Grant to Produce and Stage Latiné/LGBTQ+ Focused Play

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In the fall of 2022, Josh Grisetti, professor of theatre and head of the musical theatre area, received a $113K HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) Community Grant sponsored by CSU Northridge (CSUN) and Apple, Inc. (which also includes an additional $30K technology package) to develop and stage a new musical theatre work in support of up-and-coming Latiné musical theatre writers and composers. Titled “The Boys and the Nuns,” the production is an examination of identity, belonging, and faith, woven together with the music of the 80s.

When Grisetti was hired at Cal State Fullerton in 2021, he was compelled by the university’s HSI designation. He wanted to know how the Department of Theatre and Dance was serving the community and saw an opportunity to do just that when CSUN/Apple announced their HSI Community Grant.

“Boys” brings together CSU students, students from neighboring institutions, local professional performers, and a professional creative team that includes Los Angeles-based professional director/choreographer Jonny Martinez, Chicago-based composing/writing team Sandra Delgado and Michael McBride, and New York-based executive director of the Latiné Musical Theatre Lab, Ryan Morales Green. Grisetti serves as producer and principal investigator. The creative team then partnered with New York’s Latiné Musical Theatre Lab to find emerging musical theatre writers and composers, vetted by the lab, who have promising new works in development that centralize Latiné and LGBTQ+ creators with Latiné and LGBTQ+ stories and characters.

The project was produced in two phases: first, a 29-hour closed developmental reading of the material that took place in May; next, a seven-week fully staged workshop production in the Arena Theatre on campus (see below for details). Both phases of the workshop involved the creative team working with a combination of students from multiple institutions and degree paths, CSUF alumni, and/or local professional performers to further develop the work itself and build community.

Grisetti hopes “Boys” will become part of the wider narrative surrounding representation in the entertainment industry, which he views as “…desperately [in need of] strong new works by diverse creators featuring diverse characters and stories.”

“The Boys and the Nuns”

Jonny Martinez, director/choreographer; Rod Bagheri, musical director; Michael McBride, composer; Sandra Delgado, lyricist/librettist; Ryan Morales Green, creative consultant; Josh Grisetti, producer/PI:

November 3–5 (Nov. 3, 2 p.m.; Nov. 4, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Nov. 5, 2 p.m.)

Arena Theatre (Clayes Performing Arts Center)

Tickets: Single tickets $10 (complimentary for CSUF students)
All orders are subject to a $3 processing fee.

Storyline: In 1986, a group of LGBTQ activists from Chicago’s “Boystown” are weary – they have been fighting City Hall to pass the “Gay Rights Ordinance” since 1972. Enter a group of Catholic Sisters who band together with the activists while embroiled in their own fight for equal rights within the church. And in the middle is Pablo, a musician searching for his place in the world. Inspired by true events, “The Boys and the Nuns” is an examination of identity, belonging, and faith, woven together with the music of the 80s, from Spanish language power ballads to synthy new wave to Chicago’s homegrown house music.

Heather Richards